Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Friday, July 15 – The Yeti Saves the Day

Less than two weeks out from the annual sailing trip we decided to buy a Yeti cooler. There are many people who, when realizing a new want or need, insisting on going to a high end retailer and buying only the highest quality product, no matter the cost.  The theory being, in the long run buying a superior quality product will result in greater satisfaction and a long term lower cost of ownership. Well, that’s not us.  At all. When we feel the need to buy something, Ana first goes to Value Village, and about half the time she will find something that works. If she comes up blank there, she will then do the rounds to the consignment stores, charity shops, junk dealers, and any similar place where deals flourish. If that doesn’t work, then we will do an exhaustive internet search on Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay and try to find the item used. If that still doesn’t turn up anything, we will generally decide that it was not meant to be, and make do without it, but every so often we will actually break down and buy something at full retail price, but it does not happen often and when it does we feel the pain; especially Ana. Her theory is that if the seller isn’t crying as they hand over the item that you paid a pittance for, then you have paid too much.

Which brings me to our cooler situation. About a month ago I thought our cooler situation was just fine. We have one large green Cabela’s cooler that we bought about six years ago in the US when the Canadian dollar was strong and it was on a clearance rack at an exceptionally low price. The forest green colour nicely hides all the dents and marks on the outside, so it doesn’t look too bad at first glance. But try opening it and you discover how rotten it is. The hinges are completely bent and the pins drop out frequently so opening or closing the lid requires a steady hand, patience and a sharp technique, otherwise the lid will simply fall off and it takes a mini hammer and half an hour to put it back together. The inside of the cooler smells like rancid onions, so we need to bleach it twice weekly. Oh, and it doesn’t keep anything cold. It’s actually more like a water maker - all you need to do is dump in fourteen bucks worth of ice, close the lid, open it up one hour later and voila - one gallon of cool water.

Our other cooler is one of those old Oscar ones that everybody used to own about 25 years ago when Canadian Tire must have been giving them out free with every overpriced oil change. Well, somehow we still have one, but the problem is that it doesn’t hold more than six beers and half a bag of ice, which doesn’t get you through any more than 45 minutes of Happy Hour down at the dock on Friday evenings.

So this year we moved our sailboat back to our home base of Port Dover, which is the summer home of the Doerrs – the greatest dock rat family that has ever lived. The three boys Brad, Pat and Geoff spent every summer as kids down at Port Dover with their parents, living the dream as young adventurous lads in an aquatic wonderland. As young kids, the trouble they caused was small time stuff like hooking people in the face with fishing lures, unplugging boaters’ shore power cables, stealing chips from the vending machines, hitting people with water balloons, peeing on other boaters’ swim platforms - that sort of thing. But as they grew older, their shenanigans grew more elaborate and exciting and on the weekends they could be found blowing up frogs with firecrackers, setting buildings on fire, stealing cars, sinking boats, removing dock boards to watch people fall in and having Roman Candle firework shooting matches. And this all happened even before they discovered alcohol – it got much worse after that. As a result the litany of repressive marina rules we suffer today are a direct result of the misadventures of the Doerr boys.

Jump forward in time about 20 years and the Doerrs are now nearly adult-like. Each of the boys has their own boat, their own children, their own wives (or a reasonable facsimile), but are really just slightly more mature dock rats. And man, do they have fun! They are giving their own kids the exact same amazing boating experiences they had as youngsters, and so far none of the kids has hooked anybody in the face with a lure yet, so it seems the hooliganism may have skipped a generation.

Back to the coolers.  The Doerr boys introduced us to the amazing Yeti cooler and line of cooling products. Yeti is a US company that makes stuff to cool things. They have hard-sided, grizzly bear-proof coolers to cool your food, soft sided, waterproof bags to cool your beverages, insulated drink holders to cool your beers cans and even Yeti brand clothing to make the people wearing it look cooler. And the Doerr boys are in a competition of sorts. Each time one of them buys a Yeti item, one of the others buys a larger version of the same thing. It’s one-upmanship of the finest sort. Pat bought a Yeti cooler so big he had to buy this elaborate, steel hitch buggy for this truck to transport it. I think the cooler is large enough to hold a moose. Brad has purchased one of everything that Yeti manufactures; you’d almost think he owned the company, or maybe gets a commission for every Yeti product he coerces his friends and family into buying. The only thing he doesn’t have yet is a Yeti tattoo, which I suggested he get on his neck, but he said he’d rather get it on his forehead, so he’s thinking of that as a Christmas gift to himself. Geoff tries to get in the game too, but he doesn’t have any money left because he has a huge, kick-ass power boat way bigger than the other two, but he did have enough cash left over to buy a very nice Yeti sticker that he stuck on his boat fridge so he didn’t feel left out.

We spend a lot of time with the Doerr boys so we have become infected with Yeti mania. After weeks of humming and hawing, and always finding cold ice in the Doerr coolers and warm water in ours, we finally broke down and ordered one at FULL RETAIL PRICE! I couldn’t believe it. I think the last time this happened was with a breast pump 12 years ago, and that was not for lack of searching for good used ones at garage sales. These damn Yeti coolers are so good that nobody ever sells them second hand. And none of the stores that sell them can keep them in stock so we ordered one from the US and it arrived this week, just in time for our annual boat trip.

So today we packed up that fine Yeti cooler with ice and drinks and when we arrived at the dock I was simply bursting with pride when I saw Brad watching me hoist the Yeti above my head, pumping it in the air and doing my Viking war cry. Of course I know he was secretly laughing at me because mine is smaller than his, but that’s been happening to me my whole life so I’m used to it.

We began packing all of our gear onto the boat when we made an exciting discovery.  We had forgotten to leave the battery charger breaker on, which powers the two DC fridges, so all the food we left at the boat had gone rotten in the fridge-turned-smokers. So while we waited for the batteries to charge and for Ana and the kids to go to the shop to replace all the spoiled stuff, that Yeti cooler kept everything frosty cold. The Yeti saves the day!
It was 8pm when we threw off the lines and began the first, and longest leg of our journey – approximately 170 miles to Cedar Point Ohio. We waved goodbye to our friends and were soon far out into the lake, with Port Dover and the hundreds of red flashing lights from the shoreline windmills behind us.

By midnight, we had already rounded Long Point and were on a direct course for our final destination, which was to the west, straight across this gigantic fresh water ocean. I was at the helm, reviewing the charts when this strange green glow appeared down below. I peeked down into the cabin and saw Ana wearing one of those headlamps - where she got it I had no idea. She looked directly at me, clicked a button on top, and immediately blinded me with a high power white searchlight right in my face.

“Aaaaghh!” I screamed.

“Wait a minute, let me change the setting,” she said as she fiddled with the buttons on top. The light did change, but now it was a thousand flickers per minute strobe lamp, causing me to burst into my best M.C. Hammer clown pants dance, it just felt so right. She kept flicking buttons, alternating the solar blasts from red to green to strobe to beam and I raved it up on the Bella Blue dance floor. Eventually I just got too tired from all the dancing and announced that I was heading down for a nap. When I left the cockpit, Ana was there with her headlamp on full power reading some sort of trashy novel. Any other boat would see us from miles away, so I went to bed feeling safe and sound, and told Ana to come and get me as soon as she no longer able to keep awake or the batteries in her headlamp went dead.

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